"More than half of the residents have left and still there is not enough bread," a man standing in line for bread in the Syrian city of al-Qusayr told Reuters. The bakery in al-Qusayr is the only one left in town, and its operation depends on flour smuggled across the border from Lebanon. Residents can buy five pieces of bread at a time. Not more.
Food and basic supplies are increasingly difficult to secure for some Syrians. Fuel is also hard to find, increasing hardship during the severe cold. "Bashar Assad puts the petrol and diesel in his tanks," the man at the bakery complains. "What will the children do?"
Syria has become increasingly isolated as the regime of president Bashar Assad has intensified its crackdown on anti-government forces in several cities.
The UN Security Council has expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in the country, "in particular the growing number of affected civilians, the lack of safe access to adequate medical services, and food shortages, particularly in areas affected by fighting and violence such as Homs, Hama, Deraa, Idlib," the BBC reports.
On Thursday, rebel fighters left the besieged neighborhood of Baba Amr in Homs in what appears to be the end of a month-long assault by Syrian troops on the city. Security forces had been shelling Homs for several weeks, having vowed to 'cleanse' the city of anti-government fighters. A statement by the Baba Amr rebels brigade said that the rebels' decision to retreat was based on "worsening humanitarian conditions, lack of food and medicine and water, electricity and communication cuts as well as shortages in weapons," the Associated Press reports.
The United Nations estimates that more than 7,500 people have died in Syria since the Assad regime launched a brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters in March 2011.